Although Latin is typically referred to as “dead,” increasingly there is a trend to focus on it as a “living language.” In other words, to interact with Latin as a spoken language. It is believed that actively speaking the language will increase fluency and familiarity with the language. This entails using the language orally and acting out Latin phrases physically, which is known as TPR or totally physical response. This year’s 7th grade, a very enthusiastic group, did a communicative exercise in lieu of a trimester test. They memorized Latin lines for a play about Pokémon. The students are passionate about this Japanese role-playing card game, and their passion translated nicely on screen.
Social media is a wonderful way to keep abreast of advances in one’s discipline, to learn new teaching techniques, and to gain wonderful materials. In this case, I found the Pokémon readings and dialogue on the Latin teaching blog “toutovlepo.” After all, traditional Latin textbooks tend to take place in the ancient palaestra, not in the Pokémon gym. Making up a story such as this requires mixing traditional, classical Latin with new terms that need to be Latinized. We discussed making Pokémon a Latin noun and how to decline it in the third declension. “Pokémon, Pokémonis, Pokémoni, Pokémonem, Pokémone.” This was an interesting twist on studying the declensions of nouns.
This was a self-driven assignment, with one student being assigned the role of director. This young man filmed all of the scenes and led his classmates. Students react differently to peer direction and are both freer in their acting and more invested in the project. They memorized their lines perfectly in Latin. In fact, the project was so immersive that the most common mistake was accidentally translating the Latin into English when reciting. This is a teacher’s dream, quite frankly.
Also, new technology helped the students bring this project to life. Back before COVID, Dr. Smith sponsored several teachers to attend the FCIS conference in Orlando. Mrs. Tkac and I focused on the technology talks, learning how to integrate AR and VR into our lessons. Then, we were all sent home, and I hadn’t had the opportunity to use this hands-on technology during virtual school. I was so excited to again experiment with augmented reality. Students used Videoleap and green screen technology to transport themselves to cities in Pokémon like Hoenn and Lilycove where they battled and captured Poochyena, Torchix, et al. A mix of virtual and practical props and effects helped bring the story to life in a really new and fun way. The students used AR to “film” their Pokémon battles. They threw AR Pokeballs at each other to reveal their fire-breathing Pokémon. The students loved animating and voicing their own Pokémon perhaps most of all.
By: Giulia Fiorile, Latin teacher